HB V

is older than it's ever been and now it's even older

6/06/2001

SPAM History (not Spam history)


Veterans have complained that the Korean War is the forgotten war in American history. Perhaps that is true to a degree, but I think there is a war that we have forgotten far more effectively than the Korean: the Spanish-American War (I use the mental mnemonic of SPAM to refer to this conflict.)

This was an enormous turning point in American History, much like the Mexican-American war, in that it cemented our role as an imperial power and sent the signal to the world that we were a force to be reckoned with. Consider the following events that were caused by the SPAM:
  • The rise to power of Theodore Roosevelt. At the time of the SPAM, he was an undersecretary of the Navy. He resigned his post, and led a volunteer force called the Rough Riders into battle. The resulting notoriety catapulted him to the Vice Presidency, and he became President following the unfortunate assassination of William McKinley at the Buffalo World’s Fair just six months after McKinley’s second inauguration. Roosevelt would later split the Republican vote when he childishly ran for president as a spoiler, causing Woodrow Wilson to become one of only two Democratic presidents between Buchanan and Franklin Roosevelt. This would arguably lead to our involvement in WWI.

  • The new, massive involvement in imperialist conflict of a previously isolationist USA. Prior to the SPAM, we were mainly interested in subduing our adjacent colony space, also known as the American West. Afterwards, we were suddenly involved in many nasty conflicts, like the extremely bloody and unnecessary Phillipine-American War. In this war, we killed well over half a million Filipinos, in addition to losing some 5,000 American soldiers, and never really did achieve our goal of subduing the whole archipelago. To illustrate how bloody this was, consider that the Colt .45 pistol first gained its popularity during this conflict. The old .38 caliber pistols didn’t kill the insurgents quickly enough, so large numbers of the new .45s were diverted from Alaska from Polar Bear killing use to use instead for Filipino killing.

  • The SPAM cemented the perceived need for the Panama Canal, due to the fact that the US had and determined it needed a two ocean navy. The Panama Canal was the first major globalizing piece of infrastructure in the Western Hemisphere and arguably has shaped our commercial and foreign policy development more than any other single public works project.

All this from a pathetically one sided and unnecessary war. My favorite anecdote from the SPAM concerns the capture of Guam, which we still possess. Steaming for the Phillipines, a couple of American ships stopped in the harbor of Guam to capture this important strategic outpost. Upon arriving in the harbor, the US ships fired a warning shot at the fort. Upon getting no reply, the Americans were puzzled, but then saw a small boat rowing out to meet the ships. The message from the fort was to the effect that “We have no gunpowder to return your salute.” The Americans informed the Spanish that a state of war existed between the two countries, at which point the Spanish surrendered.

By the way, this guy is an amateur historian with cool maps. I heartily recommend the site. From MeFi.

He also has an interesting perspective on Ayn Rand:
[L]ife is too short to waste precious days reading books that are endlessly pushed on me by people who -- how shall I put this delicately? -- lack credibility. The works of Ayn Rand easily rank as the philosophy most recommended by the least reliable people that I've ever encountered.

That is true. However, I often find myself agreeing with her conclusions, although her reasoning is not sharp and she gets into the realm of repugnance very quickly. I was surprised to find that the Ayn Rand Institute has a sub-page designed to get Objectivism into Debate rounds. There is even topic analysis with quotations. In one of these sections, I found this one:

If men want to oppose war, it is statism that they must oppose. So long as they hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged “good” can justify it—there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations.


It may be true. Who knows? We’ve never tried being respectful of everyone’s rights before. It does, however, contradict the main philosophical background of Vulcanism: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (or one).
Miscellaneous

I had seen this before, but I don’t think I’ve blogged it – drop a virtual nuclear weapon anywhere you want! I dropped a Hiroshima sized one on my work and it doesn’t quite wipe out my home. That tells me my commute is too long.

A report by the US Commission on Human Rights has determined that the voting irregularities in Florida affected people of color in an amazingly disparate manner, which is important due to the fact that US civil rights law makes such disparate impact a justiciable issue. Expect lawsuits!

Semi-AWL: The ongoing case of the strip club/mob trial of Steve Kaplan and other Gold Club associates continues to get major athletes and figures within the wrestling world embroiled within the scandal. Those include Dennis Rodman, Patrick Ewing, Jerry Stackhouse, Reggie Miller, Andruw Jones, Charles Oakley, and Terrell Davis. Bet your mom doesn’t want to serve you any Chunky Soup now, TD.

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